AUS Tertiary Update
College merger to cost jobs
As many as thirty more jobs will be lost when the merger between the Christchurch College of Education and the University of Canterbury takes effect from 1 January next year. On Monday this week, staff at the College and in the University’s Education Department were offered voluntary redundancy as the first step towards cutting academic staff numbers by fifteen, from 140 to 125, and general staff positions by fourteen. The general staff positions to be disestablished have all been identified, among them the current Directors of the College’s three Schools.
Affected staff were given a written proposal on Monday which states that applications for voluntary severance have to be made by 27 October. Staff members who apply will be notified of the outcome by 3 November 2006, and those whose applications are accepted will leave their employment on 31 December.
The Association of University Staff Canterbury Branch President, Dr David Small, said that the job losses announced on Monday told only a part of the story, with a separate restructuring process currently under way merging the College and University Information Technology departments also likely to result in further redundancies. He said that mergers, already completed between the printeries and libraries of the two institutions, had resulted in job losses, while the College’s School of Business had already been shut down and the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art is in the process of being transferred to the Christchurch Polytechnic.
Dr Small said that a significant challenge for the new University College of Education would be to maintain a strong academic focus. “The new College will be located on the old College site, meaning that it will be physically separated from the University, making genuine integration much more difficult,” he said. “Current University staff would be located at the College, but would travel back to the University to give lectures.”
According to Dr Small, fears of further redundancies have been heightened in another report indicating that a further $1.8 million in costs could be cut from the new College over the next few years. “University staff have faced a constant barrage of cost cutting, redundancies and restructuring recently; the prospect of further cuts will do nothing for morale,” he said.
in Tertiary Update this week
1. Mixed reaction to TEC decision on fees
2. TES put to the test
3. PSA hits back at attacks on public service
4. University Senate endorses proposed code of conduct
5. NZQA management structure in place
6. Iranian President wants liberal teachers out
7. US Education Department “mines” students’ records for FBI
8. AVCC in for major shake-up
9. Women scientists face pay discrimination
10. Gallic private eyes seek respectability by degrees
Mixed reaction to TEC decision
Students have welcomed a decision by the Tertiary Education Commission to decline an application by Victoria University of Wellington to increase some domestic student tuition fees by up to 10 percent from the third trimester this year. The decision has not, however, been welcomed by the University’s Council.
Most undergraduate domestic tuition fees at Victoria increased by 5 percent for 2006, but the declined application was for a further 5 percent increase for domestic students enrolled in Humanities, Social Science or Education.
Victoria Council Chair, Emeritus Professor Tim Beaglehole, says that the decision to turn down the request to increase fees doesn’t address the current industry problem of cross-subsidisation across faculties, and the reduced level of investment Victoria can make in quality education resources. “We are not convinced by the Commission’s arguments that we have not sufficiently demonstrated exceptional circumstances. Their focus is on approving or declining applications based on percentages, rather than considering the very real inequitable difference in fees across universities,” he said. “Fees in Victoria University’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Faculty of Education are significantly lower than those of other universities and the extra 5 percent increase would move towards making it a more level playing field.”
Emeritus Professor Beaglehole said that, if Victoria was able to charge students the same fees as those at the top of the range, the University would be immediately $20 million per year better off and therefore better able to improve the quality of its infrastructure.
Joey Randall, Co-President of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations, said that the Government needed to recognise the under-funding of our public tertiary-education system and address the problem immediately. “In Australian universities, government contributes 46 percent of the institutions’ total funding whilst, here in New Zealand, government contributes only 38 percent. It is not good enough,” he said. “Also, in Australian universities, student fees only contributed 19 percent of the institutions’ income, compared with 31 percent here.”
TES put to the test
The Government’s Tertiary Education Strategy may be put to the test if Victoria University proceeds to establish an engineering school in competition with Massey University’s Wellington campus, according to a report in this week’s Education Review. If it goes ahead, Victoria’s professional engineering programme would teach software and electronic engineering from the start of next year, subjects which are similar to those offered as a part of Massey’s professional engineering degree.
Education Review reports that the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) has sent conflicting signals about its powers to prevent such courses from being funded, despite the call from Government for increased collaboration between institutions and for universities to differentiate themselves from one another. A spokesperson for Massey said that TEC had told the University that it could not refuse funding if the course was approved by the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee’s committee on academic programmes and enrolled students next year. Education Review says that TEC failed to provide a direct answer on the question of whether it had the power to refuse funding, instead saying that it was expected that tertiary-education providers would take into account the intention of the tertiary-education reforms as well as their Charter and Profile documents. TEC’s Tertiary Engagement Manager, Ruth Anderson, is reported as saying that funding can be refused if a qualification does not meet an institution’s current Charter and Profile as well as the TES and the Statement of Tertiary Education Priorities.
Victoria University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Pat Walsh, said that an identified national shortage of engineering graduates and the distinctive nature of the Victoria majors made the Victoria degree a strong proposition.
Meanwhile, AUT is understood to be intending to seek approval from the Council for Legal Education to establish a Law School just down the road from the University of Auckland Law School. If the necessary approvals are granted, AUT’s proposed school would enrol students in 2008.
More information on these stories can be found in Education Review:
PSA hits back at
attacks on public service
The Public Service Association has hit back at recent criticism about the size of the public service from National Party Education spokesperson Bill English. Last week, Tertiary Update reported Mr English as saying that, while the tertiary-education bureaucracy had more than doubled under Labour, students hadn’t benefited at all, and that a National Government would cut back on what he describes as a growth in public-sector spending which has failed to ensure value for taxpayers’ investment in tertiary education.
Responding to the criticism, PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott said the increase in the size of the public sector was necessary after the National Party ran it down during the 1990s. “To ensure that important services like education and health are effectively delivered, more staff, not less, are needed for the Government to achieve its ambitious social and economic reform agenda,” she said.
“While the National Party may be happy to take its policy advice from the Brethren Church and the Business Roundtable, we are pleased that this Government is more interested in getting talented public-service workers to give policy advice,” Ms Pilott said.
PSA research shows that the New Zealand public service is smaller than those in other countries of a similar size and in the OECD.
University Senate endorses
proposed code of conduct
The University of Otago Senate has endorsed a proposed Code of Student Conduct and consequent amendments to the University's discipline regulations just weeks after altercations in which visiting students were accused of unacceptable conduct near the University campus.
The Senate’s recommendations will be considered by the University Council, which will make a final decision on the Code of Conduct at its meeting on Tuesday next week.
Vice-Chancellor and Senate Chair, Professor David Skegg, says the endorsement of the Code follows a long process of consultation and discussion and an earlier working party on which the Otago University Students' Association (OUSA) was represented.
The purpose of the Code of Conduct is to promote the University's academic aims and sense of community through the cultivation of mutual respect, tolerance and understanding. To this end, the University expects students will not engage in conduct that endangers their own or others’ safety and well-being. The code is specific in outlawing actions such as vandalism, setting fires without regard for personal safety or the security of property and throwing bottles.
The University is also proposing the formation of a Reference Group to monitor the application of the Code of Conduct. The Reference Group will include representatives of the University staff and OUSA and may also include a local community member.
Professor Skegg said that Dunedin has a vibrant student culture which is unmatched by any other city in Australasia. “We want to promote that culture, while still ensuring the safety and welfare of the thousands of students who come here to study - as well as of the community that makes them so welcome,” he said.
NZQA management structure in place
The New Zealand Qualifications Authority’s new management structure is now in place, with Bali Haque taking up the role of Deputy Chief Executive (DCE) Qualifications on Monday this week.
Mr Haque was formerly Principal of Pakuranga College and joins Keith Marshall, DCE Strategic and Corporate Services, and Mike Willing, DCE Quality Assurance, who joined the Authority on 31 July.
The Chief Executive, together with the three DCEs and the Chief Advisor Māori, Kararaina Cribb, make up the SMT.
NZQA Chief Executive, Karen Poutasi, said the arrival of Mr Haque completed the formation of the Authority's new Strategic Management Team (SMT). “The Authority's job is to ensure that the qualifications gained by learners have value and are widely recognised,” Dr Poutasi said. “The new structure of the organisation will help us do our job better.”
Dr Poutasi said that the aim was to be transparent in what NZQA does, and remain committed to ongoing improvement. “We welcome constructive suggestions on how to improve what we do,” she said. “Above all, the integrity of learners' education must take precedence.”
In the previous structure, eight group managers reported to the Chief Executive. “The new structure will enable us to have a greater focus on our core activities and become more streamlined in our thinking,” Dr Poutasi said.
Iranian President wants liberal teachers out
Iran's hard-line President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has urged students to push for a purge of liberal and secular university teachers in a fresh display of his determination to strengthen Islamic fundamentalism in the country.
Speaking to students on Tuesday this week , Ahmadinejad called on them to pressure his administration to keep driving out moderate instructors, continuing a process that began earlier this year when dozens of liberal university professors and teachers were sent into retirement after Ahmadinejad named the first cleric to head Tehran University.
Despite those retirements, the country's oldest institution of higher education remains home to dozens more professors and instructors who are outspoken in their opposition to policies that restrict freedom of expression.
The President complained that reforms in the country's universities were difficult to accomplish and that the educational system had been affected by secularism for the last 150 years. ”Such a change has begun,” he said. “Students should shout at the President and ask why liberal and secular university lecturers are present in the universities.”
With his fresh call echoing the rhetoric of the nation's 1979 Islamic revolution, Ahmadinejad appears determined to remake Iran by reviving the fundamentalist goals pursued under the Republic's late founder, Ayatollah Khomeini.
From the International Herald Tribune
Education Department “mines” students’ records for
The US Education Department has given the Federal Bureau of Investigation information on hundreds of students who applied for financial aid over the past five years as part of the Federal Government's anti-terrorism investigations following the attacks of September 11, 2001.
The programme, known as Project Strike Back, was aimed in part at finding out if suspected terrorists were financing their operations through Federal student aid obtained by using other students’ identities. The secret effort was uncovered by a journalism student at Northwestern University.
Under the programme, the FBI provided names to the Education Department to cross-check in the Department's database of applicants for student financial aid. The repository keeps information on some fourteen million students per year who apply for Federal financial aid. Included in the database are students’ names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and driver's-licence numbers.
From the Chronicle of Higher Education
AVCC in for major shake-up
University vice-chancellors met in Melbourne this week to discuss a radical overhaul of the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee which will see a new industry group called Universities Australia emerge before the end of June 2007.
It comes as universities, under pressure from the Federal Government to diversify, struggle to reconcile their growing differences in a more deregulated environment. The Group of Eight universities prompted the overhaul last year when its Chairman wrote to the AVCC about the need for fundamental change, saying that the organisation could only speak with one voice on an ever-diminishing number of issues.
It appears likely that all positions on the current AVCC Board, along with that of the Chief Executive and the President, will be declared vacant. A new, more powerful full-time position of Chief Executive President will be created. This person, who is not likely to be a vice-chancellor, will be the public face of the group and lead the lobbying. A vice-chancellor will then be elected to chair the Board and plenary meetings. A new position of full-time operating officer will also be created.
In a big shift from AVCC practice, at least two members of the new Board will be from outside the university sector.
From The Australian
Women scientists face pay
Discrimination plays a significant role in the pay gap between men and women scientists working in United Kingdom universities, according to new research carried out at the University of East Anglia.
Sara Connolly, of the University’s School of Economics, has undertaken research that reveals for the first time what proportion of the pay disparity is due to women being younger, more junior or employed in different types of institution or subject areas. Her preliminary results suggest that almost a quarter (23 percent) of the pay gap is “unexplained” and may be due to discrimination against women.
Dr Connolly said her analysis of the latest Athena survey of science, engineering and technology findings show evidence of a glass ceiling for women scientists. She also found that there is an average pay gap between men and women academics working in science, engineering and technology of £1,000, rising to more than £4,000 for professors; that women represent only 29 percent of permanent academic staff in the sciences (despite women being employed in increasing numbers in universities and gender equality existing among science students);and that the gender gap widens with seniority. Women account for just 16 percent of professors in the sciences.
Gallic private eyes seek respectability by
The image of a private eye as a shady character asking questions through a cloud of smoke in a sleazy bar is to give way to the world of exams when a state university in France launches the first degree course in private investigation. Forty students are starting the three-year bachelor’s programme at a division of the University Pantheon-Assas Paris II, which is leading the way in a government initiative to impose standards on a profession known for its ambiguous relations with the law. “The detective has for too long been burdened with the image of the crafty outsider who gets the proof in breach of the law and privacy,” said Michel Le Forestier, Director of the Association of Certified Investigators. “The image of the PI drinking in a shabby little office does not help our status.”
AUS Tertiary Update is compiled weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the Association of University Staff and others. Back issues are available on the AUS website: www.aus.ac.nz. Direct enquires should be made to Marty Braithwaite, AUS Communications Officer, email: email@example.com